The Estate Planning Process

There was a time when a Last Will & Testament sufficed as an estate plan for many middle income earners. Today, that is no longer true due to the increase in value of personal assets, the shift to private retirement plans, changes in personal lifestyles and living arrangements, new long-term care choices, privacy concerns and the complexity of laws governing the disposition of estates. Rather, today’s comprehensive plan typically includes several techniques and instruments — Wills, Trusts, Family Limited Partnerships, Health Care Proxies, durable power of attorney, Long-term Care Insurance, gifts, etc. It also requires the specialized knowledge and skills of legal and financial experts that are dedicated to the practice of estate and elder law as well as asset protection.

Hirst Law, in combination with Hirst Financial Independence Planning is such a practice. We possess the in-house legal and financial capabilities to properly assess your situation and create a customized plan designed to minimize, or avoid altogether, estate taxes, fees and probate court.

3-Steps To Maximizing Your Estate Benefit

Hirst Law employs a simple 3-step process to demystify and create your estate action plan. Throughout the process we’ll lay out your options in plain English so you understand them and can make smart decisions about how you wish to proceed. After all, it’s your plan and should be designed to meet the requirements of you and your loved ones. All along the way, we’ll provide you with insights and recommendations chosen to specifically address your unique situation and protect as many of your assets as possible.

3-Steps To Success

analysis & goal setting → create plan → implement & monitor

Step 1

Analyze the current situation

We begin by taking a snapshot of your current assets/property to determine the size of the estate and to assess how current rules and regulations will impact it. Then, we’ll establish goals and objectives for how you want your estate to be handled.

Once you contact Hirst Law, we will setup your free initial phone consultation with Attorney Hirst. We will provide you with a list of items to have available for the call. During this initial phone consultation, you are exploring the possibility of becoming a client of the Law Office of Leonard T.A. Hirst, II but no commitment has been made. The ball is in your court! If you decide to move forward, you will contact us and we can advance to the next phase of the process.

Congratulations! If you have reached this phase, you have decided to take charge and begin the Estate Planning process with the Hirst Law Office. We will send you an Estate Planning Engagement letter and Estate Planning Questionnaire.

Your Actions:

 Sign the Estate Planning Engagement letter which outlines the scope of this engagement.
 Complete the Estate Planning Questionnaire and forward it to our office

Attorney Hirst’s Actions:

 Lenny will review the Estate Planning Questionnaire and follow up with any questions.

Step 2

Create an estate plan

After we’ve assessed your situation, a concrete action plan will be developed and reviewed.  The recommendations will consider Wills, Trusts, Family Partnerships, Healthcare Proxies, Durable Power of Attorney, etc.

We will meet with you to review your Estate Planning Questionnaire and discuss your goals and objectives.  Each estate plan is tailored to the individual so you will be a huge part of this process. We will explain how to select your agents and the capacity that they will serve in your estate plan.

Your Actions:

  • Select your fiduciaries
    • Decide who will make financial decisions for you and under what circumstances they can act
    • Decide who will make medical decisions if you are unable to do so
    • Decide who will receive which assets from your estate and when
    • Decide who will handle your estate
  • Select a backup fiduciary for each of the positions listed above


Attorney Hirst’s Actions:

  • Fact finding
    • Review Estate Planning Questionnaire
    • Guide you in determining the goals and objectives of your estate plan
    • Explain the duties of fiduciaries
    • Answer any questions
  • Create Estate Plan documents

Step 3

Implement the plan

Attorney Hirst will prepare the estate plan and meet with you to sign the documents and decide the next steps.  Next steps will include how to implement your plan and who will be responsible for each step. We stand ready to assist you in completing the steps to implement your plan.  Hirst Law will be here to guide you in the future whenever any major life changes occur.

We will meet with you to review the Estate Plan and answer your questions.  If necessary, adjustments will be made to the plan. If there are no changes, you will sign the documents and we will discuss the steps required to implement the plan.

Your Actions:

  • Review the Estate Plan and documents to ensure that they represent your intentions.
  • Sign the documents.
  • When trusts are involved, retitle assets according to Attorney Hirst’s instructions.  Hirst Law Office will provide assistance wherever possible.
  • Keep the Hirst Law Office advised of any major changes in your life.

Attorney Hirst’s Actions:

  • Review the Estate Plan and documents with you and answer your questions.
  • Make any adjustments to the plan and documents if required.
  • Notarize the documents.
  • All documents will be scanned into an electronic file.
  • Provide you with the thumb drive containing an electronic version of your Estate Plan and documents.
  • Provide you with the original Estate Plan and documents.
  • Provide you with instructions on the retitling of assets, if necessary.
  • Assist you in any necessary retitling of assets.